MoneyAs reported on Artnet and referred by Tony Fitzpatrick

“He only recognizes art with his wallet,” Damien Hirst once said of collector Charles Saatchi, “he believes he can affect art values with buying power, and he still believes he can do it.” The quote reverberated ironically as it was announced that Hirst himself was part of the investment group that is purchasing For the Love of God, his $100-million platinum-and-diamond skull, recently on view at the White Cube gallery in London.

Hirst’s involvement in the purchase (as well as the sale) raised immediate questions about the deal, with Bloomberg reporter Linda Sandler suggesting that perhaps “Hirst hasn’t yet found a final buyer for his most expensive artwork, at a time when hedge fund managers and other art collectors have lost money in the credit markets.” Several years ago, when Saatchi sold off his collection of Hirst works, the artist teamed up with his gallery, with much fanfare, to repurchase his own works — a move that no doubt boosted his market value, not unlike when corporations buy back their own stock to raise their share price.

“Three to four weeks of paperwork” remain before the transaction is completed, said Frank Dunphy, the artist’s partner and business manager. Dunphy declined to identify other investors involved in the purchase. Hirst is requiring that the object be exhibited internationally as part of the deal, according to the report on Bloomberg.

Hirst’s recent show at White Cube was reported to have totaled $262 million in sales. For the Love of God cost Hirst an estimated $20 million to fabricate. Asked if the gallery had retained any stake in the skull, a spokesperson replied, “Not that I’m aware of.”

Christopher Hudgens